What Is Lubel’s Toughest Nut to Crack?

The answer is among three goals CST’s CEO hopes for when customers visit Corner Stores

Kim Lubel CST Corner Store

Kim Lubel, CEO, CST Brands

SAN ANTONIO -- When a customer walks into a Corner Store convenience store, CST Brands Inc. CEO Kim Lubel is hoping for three things:

  1. They find exactly what they need in less than five minutes.
  2. The customer isn't reminded of Valero.
  3. They are happy enough with the experience to keep coming back.

Those three goals are playing a critical role in CST's growth in the aftermath of its spinoff with Valero Energy Corp. in 2013, reported The San Antonio Business Journal.

The company will focus on store development and cultivating its brand identity in order to continue its upward trajectory.

Lubel—who was just named one of Fortune magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business—told the Business Journal that there will be at least as many new stores in 2016 as there will be by the end of this year. So far, CST is scheduled to open between 40 to 50 new locations across the United States and Canada.

But beyond a brick-and-mortar presence, Lubel said the biggest difficulty for the brand in the years following its spinoff with Valero has been establishing its own identity rather than piggybacking off the fuel corporation.

“By pursuing growth along new store construction, acquisition, and new food offerings and merchandise, we've been able to consolidate the brand presence,” Lubel told the newspaper concerning putting CST’s Corner Store c-store brand in front of Valero's more established reputation. “By implementing and updating our private-label program, it will be more fine-tuned. We've really had to emphasize Corner Store and the brand, rather than the fuel brand.”

So how does a company do that? By focusing on the experience, the report said.

“I needed people to know who Corner Store is, and continue to elevate the brand through a customer's experience in the store,” Lubel said of the company's high customer retention rate. “That's the magic, and customer engagement is a much harder nut to crack.”

San Antonio-based CST Brands has approximately 1,900 gas stations and convenience stores throughout the United States and eastern Canada. In the United States, CST Corner Stores sell fuel and signature products such as Fresh Choices baked and packaged goods, UForce energy and sport drinks, Cibolo Mountain coffee, FC bottled sodas and Flavors2Go fountain drinks. In Canada, CST is the exclusive provider of Ultramar fuel and its Dépanneur du Coin and Corner Stores sell signature Transit Café coffee and pastries. CST also owns the general partner of CrossAmerica Partners LP, a wholesale distributor of fuels that serves more than 1,100 locations across 23 states.

Click here to view the full San Antonio Business Journal report.

Part of CSP's 2015 Convenience Top 101 retailers